The centerpiece of the University of Iowa campus was heavily damaged by fire this morning. The goldden dome of Old Capitol crumbled and the cupola collapsed. Linda Kettner is a spokeswoman for the University who saw the U-of-I’s symbol ablaze around nine o’clock. She says the first thing they saw were a lot of flames shooting skyward, and the dome engulfed in flames. Kristine Male works at the nearby University Library. Male walked outside the Library and looked up at the Old Capitol and also saw the dome completely engulfed in flames. Old Capitol is home to many artifacts from Iowa history which detail its role in Iowa’s statehood and the birth and growth of the state’s largest University. Kettner says the damage looks severe on the outside, though she’s uncertain what’s happened on the inside. She says the whole dome is gone, but it’s hard to tell how much other damage there is to the roof. Kettner says restoration work was underway on the 160-year-old landmark. She says there’s scaffolding encircling the dome that also caught fire. Iowa City Fire Marshal Roger Jensen tells Radio Iowa the fire is out and crews are working at the scene on clean up, and attempting to minimize the water damage to the building. Jensen would not comment on the possible cause of the fire until he’s had time to talk with crews on the scene. Some reports from area media say renovation workers may’ve started the fire.Kettner says many people she talked with compared this morning’s fire to the loss of New York’s World Trade Center towers — as Iowa City’s familiar landmark was ringed by fire crews. She says it was “a very strange thing” with dramatic flames shooting out of the building.Old Capitol’s cornerstone was laid on July 4th, 1840. The building served as Iowa’s third territorial capitol from 1842 until 1846, and as the state capitol from 1846 until 1857, when the seat of government was moved to Des Moines. The Old Capitol was undergoing renovation, and a hastily organized rebuilding fund was already getting pledges before noon.
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